False reflexives III: Italian grammar lesson 156

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Unlock the secrets of Italian verbs with our deep dive into false reflexives! Learn to distinguish between reflexive appearances and pronominal forms, and master their usage to sound like a native speaker. 🇮🇹✨

  • Spot the difference: Not all verbs ending with -si are truly reflexive. Get to know the imposters and use them correctly to avoid common mistakes. 🕵️‍♂️
  • Embrace the pronominal: Some verbs like vergognarsi (to be shy) need their particles to make sense. They’re part of the verb’s identity, so don’t leave them hanging! 🤝
  • Meaning shifters: Beware of verbs that change their meaning when they go from transitive to intransitive pronominal forms, like addormentarsi (to fall asleep). Context is key! 🔑
  • Conjugation is key: Even though they’re tricky, pronominal verbs follow the same conjugation patterns as reflexive verbs. Practice makes perfect, so keep at it! 💪
  • Passato Prossimo: Remember to agree the past participle with the subject in gender and number when using pronominal verbs in the past tense. It’s all in the details! 📝
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False reflexives in Italian

As we have seen in the previous lessons, the riflessivi impropri, or false reflexives, are verbs that look like reflexives but are not. They can take 3 forms:

wake up in italian

Forma pronominale: Explained

In the pronominal form, the particles mi, ti, ci, si, and vi do not give the verb a reflexive meaning, but they are an integral part of the verb itself, which does not exist without them.

These verbs are called verbi pronominali, and they have the same value and function as intransitive verbs, which means they do not need a direct object.

Non voglio entrare, mi vergogno.

I don’t want to go in, I am shy.

Ci siamo pentiti di non essere venuti.

We regretted the fact we did not come.

Ti sei abbronzata!

You got tanned!

As you can see in the examples above, these verbs use the same particles as reflexive verbs, but they do not have a reflexive meaning.

fall asleep in italian

Forma pronominale: Rules

As we explained earlier, in these verbs, the particle is simply an integral part of the verbs, which do not exist (and would not make sense!) without them:

  • Abbronzarsi (to get tanned)
  • Pentirsi (to repent/regret)
  • Accorgersi (to notice)

Some verbs can also exist both in a transitive reflexive form and an intransitive pronominal form. Note that they change their meaning in two different forms.

  • Transitive: addormentare (to make someone fall asleep)
    Intransitive: addormentarsi (to fall asleep)
  • Transitive: svegliare (to wake someone up)
    Intransitive: svegliarsi (to wake up)
  • Transitive: annoiare (to bore)
    Intransitive: annoiarsi (to be bored)

 get bored italian

Forma pronominale: Conjugation

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Even if they have a different meaning and function, the verbi pronominali are conjugated in the same way as all reflexive verbs:

(to fall asleep)
(to get bored)
(to regret)
io mi addormento mi annoio mi pento
tu ti addormenti ti annoi ti penti
lui, lei si addormenta si annoia si pente
noi ci addormentiamo ci annoiamo ci pentiamo
voi vi addormentate vi annoiate vi pentite
loro, Loro si addormentano


si annoiano si pentono


Passato Prossimo
(to fall asleep)
(to get bored)
(to regret)
io mi sono addormentato/a mi sono annoiato/a mi sono pentito/a
tu ti sei addormentato/a ti sei annoiato/a ti sei pentito/a
lui, lei si è addormentato/a si è annoiato/a si è pentito/a
noi  ci siamo addormentati/e ci siamo annoiati/e ci siamo pentiti/e
voi  vi siete addormentati/e vi siete annoiati/e vi siete pentiti/e
loro, Loro si sono addormentati/e si sono annoiati/e si sono pentiti/e
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FAQs on False reflexives III: Italian grammar lesson 156

What are the reflexive verbs in Italian?

Reflexive verbs require a bit of a different approach when it comes to conjugation. You'll need to use reflexive pronouns such as 'mi', 'ti', 'si', 'ci', 'vi', and 'si' in front of each conjugation.

What is a false reflexive verb in Italian?

In Italian grammar, there are some verbs that may appear to be reflexive, but they are actually not. These are known as false reflexives.

What is the pronominal form of a verb in Italian?

In the pronominal form, the particles mi, ti, ci, si, and vi are essential components of the verb but do not provide it with a reflexive meaning. In other words, these verbs cannot exist without these particles.

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It’s a long day.
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